Revising “Teaching and Learning in Higher Education”

“Learning refers only to significant changes in capability, understanding, knowledge, practices, attitudes or values
by individuals, groups, organisations or society.”    Frank Coffield

Here’s the two part test of the semester for me:

1.  To review, discern, wonder, ask whether & how & when & where & why the revised syllabus for “Teaching and Learning in Higher Education” – aka GRAD 8101 – reflects that I have learned in ways Coffield sets out about learning and teaching in higher education – learned at all, but more important learned in ways that will matter to my own students, whether undergraduates in writing classrooms or graduate / postdoctoral students enrolled in the Preparing Future Faculty Program course sections I’ve been assigned to teach this coming year.   And in this – to not “test” my co-teacher’s patience as she takes on a new course prep that is both outside of her home institution & department, but also quite different from the PFF courses in which she enrolled as a postdoctoral fellow at this university.

2.  To review, discern, wonder, ask whether & how & when & where & why the revised learning outlined in and provoked by the  new syllabus reflects that students enrolled in the section have learned – maybe at all, maybe in new ways, maybe in richer ways, maybe in ways that will be of use to them as they teach beyond this classroom.

In the next week I’ll be reviewing the course material in anticipation of our first class meeting on 9 September, and in order to settle on specific research questions to guide this project and analysis.  I know that learning and teaching whether involving pre-school to post-compulsory players is a lovely wicked problem, and I know that I need to unwind what that means in terms of what shapes up as / makes its way into the literature review for this project, in terms of the broad contextual understanding I need to seek and articulate for this study, and in terms of what actually takes shape as the grounding research questions for this project.  As a lovely wicked problem, the research methodology will need to encompass mixed methods with a grounded theory/emergent analysis perspective.  As a culturally embedded venture, the research methods will need to attend to theories of learning that are participatory enough to suit communities of engagement, theories of communication and interaction that are resilient enough to support multicultural richness, and practices of meaning making / knowledge production that are supple and subtle enough to convey complex personal and public, challenging and collaborative, probing and contemplative understandings.

For now, those are the last sentences I can manage to write on a Sunday of writing and spoken communication that’s taken me to at least five different audiences, thankfully some of it while sitting on the back porch with laptop and tea on a breezy Minnesota afternoon.  I may not have the backyard of Tracy and a ring of chairs with my grandparents and parents, but I do have this spot at the back of my own home where family and friends sit with me – more often virtually and cognitively rather than physically – while I think through this new project.  I hope they’ll join in / weigh in here as well.

As a start, I’ve posted four documents that will be central to the research – past and now current course syllabus materials:


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